Scott Dixon earned his fifth career pole for the 2022 Indianapolis 500. File Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI | License Photo
May 27 (UPI) -- Race favorite Scott Dixon has won the Indianapolis 500 pole for the fifth time of his career, but says the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track ultimately determines the winner of IndyCar's premier event.
The 106th Indianapolis 500 is expected to start at 12:45 p.m. EDT Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. TV coverage will start at 11 a.m. on NBC.
Dixon also claimed the pole last year, but finished 17th. He told reporters Thursday that factors outside of car performance led falling back in the field.
The track's condition, weather and luck often feed into who ends up dousing themselves with milk, the race's victory lane tradition.
"A lot of time, people say the track picks the winner," Dixon said. "I would say I've been in a few of those situations where we've had dominant days or very fast days, and for whatever reason, it just hasn't worked out."
Dixon, Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay averaged 233.643 mph in qualifying, the fastest in the history of the race. They will be in the first of 11 rows in the 33-car field.
Dixon's average speed of 234.046 in qualifying was the fasted pole run in the history of the race. He won the event just once (2018) in his previous four starts from pole position.
"The only goal is to win the race," Dixon said.
Palou, Pato O'Ward, Josef Newgarden and VeeKay join Dixon among the Top 5 favorites. Marcus Ericsson, Takuma Sato, Jimmie Johnson, Will Power, Colton Herta and Tony Kanan are among the other expected contenders.
"I will do everything I can this weekend to try to win this race," Palou said Thursday. "It's not going to be easy, but obviously we have a good opportunity and a good team around us.
"Strategy has been good, pit stops have been amazing and the car has been really fast."
Helio Castroneves, the defending champion, is not among the Top 10 favorites. The four-time winner will start in the ninth row, in 27th position on the 2.5-mile track.
The prize purse is not announced until after the race. Castroneves won $1.82 million for last year's first-place finish.
"We are just days before the big one," Castroneves said. "We gotta do what we did last year. Simple."
Sato, a two-time winner, will start 10th alongside Power and Johnson in Row 4. Power was the 2018 champion. Johnson, who has a record-tying seven NASCAR Cup Series titles, will run in his first Indianapolis 500. He is looking for his first IndyCar victory.
Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kanan are among the other former winners in the field. Power leads the IndyCar Series standings, just ahead of Palou, Scott McLaughlin, Newgarden and Dixon.
Newgarden is the only driver with multiple victories this season. He won March's Grand Prix of Texas and April's Grand Prix of Long Beach.
McLaughlin, O'Ward and Herta also have 2022 IndyCar victories.